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Home African Caribbean Is It Time For Us To Start Addressing Our Miseducation?

Is It Time For Us To Start Addressing Our Miseducation?

by Sherrelle Parke
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As the children have just gone back to school, it is fitting that we take some time to reflect and reconsider the education of our children – and the miseducation of us as parents. Whilst gaining a basic education is a fundamental tool in developing self-efficacy, it is the subjects we are educated in that are more likely to determine where we go in life and how far. Several notable Black educators have written on this topic and left us quite clear instructions detailing how we, in the Black community, must shape and capitalise on more specific and strategic education for our social and economic advancement.

Dr Amos Wilson, esteemed African-American psychologist, stressed that education should function to enhance the survival of a people. However, if we consider our basic needs to be food and shelter, how many of our young people are studying agriculture or food science, or learning trades in building and plumbing? Do we actually have the tools we need to survive? Or have we simply bought into the notion of getting a “good” degree and getting a “good” job, typically an office based job, as a measure of a successful life? Are we as focused as we need to be on owning our own businesses and creating our own industries? Do we aspire to own all our own Black hair care shops, and mass produce our own cosmetic products, in the same way South Asians manufacture their own saris and Jewish people own their own kosher restaurants and bakeries? Whether you are a Garveyite or not, the economic notion of “doing for self” (being able to provide for your own basic needs) is a sound one, especially as we spiral towards recession once again and the cost of living crisis is no doubt affecting Black communities worse than others.

So how might we address this situation? In his book “The Miseducation of the Negro” Carter G. Woodson, the African-American historian and educator (and founding father of Black History Month!), tells us that western education largely serves to indoctrinate students into western ways of thinking. Dr Wilson is in agreement as he similarly writes that we are educated to be great employees but not much more. They suggest that wherever possible, education should be filtered through the appropriate cultural lens. If studying literature, go beyond Shakespeare and Austin and include the great works of notable African authors and philosophers.

If studying economic policy, interrogate how economic strategies impact people differently, at a domestic and international level. Intentionally explore history and politics through the experience of Black people in the diaspora and on the continent rather than only the experience of the coloniser. The old adage comes to mind: “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter” – which is actually an African proverb made famous by Nigerian literary great, Chinua Achebe, in his novel titled ‘Things Fall Apart’ (1958).

We know this type of much broader education is unlikely to happen is schools and formal educational institutions. Therefore, much of the efforts must be in our homes, on our time, on our watch. But how much more empowered would we be, with a more diverse understanding of the world through our own cultural lens. As Marimba Ani, outstanding anthropologist and professor of African Studies, would put it, we must be able to explain the development of ourselves and explain the development of others in ways that promote our own collective interests, values and vision. Might this be the essential key to unlocking the next stages of our advancement…

Sherrelle Parke

Sherrelle Parke

Hi I am Sherrelle Parke, a mother, entrepreneur, researcher, editor and writer with an extensive career in professional research and wider skills in community organising.
Over an 18 year stretch, I have led social research projects for the UK Civil Service and local governments, utilising evidence and analysis to shape national policy. I have delivered to international organisations, presenting on topics as diverse as early childhood education, maternal health, counterterrorism, Female Genital Mutilation, and youth crime. I have published works including an academic article on Neglected Tropical Diseases in West Africa – available in the Journal of International Health. After charity work in Tanzania, I was asked to be a trustee for the Mondo Foundation, a charity supporting women and schools in Tanzania, India and Nepal.
In 2023, I launched a parenting platform called Bantu Baby, to support Nubian parents in developing a home-schooling approach to teaching children Black History and self-pride. I published my first two children’s books which celebrate culture in fun ways.
I am also the lead editor of the Qubtic Revealer International Magazine.

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